How to photograph reflective surfaces...

One of the more challenging things to light is glass (and other highly reflective surfaces), because normally when we photograph a subject we are putting our light on that subject.

But with glass we do the opposite, we are lighting around the subject.

You will find a couple well done tutorials for lighting glass here and here.

Today is the last day...

Just reminder that today is the last day to save almost 50% on the new editing tool "Clarity" from Topaz Labs (just $29).

For more information you can check out our original post here, or head over to YouTube and watch our "demonstration" video.

"Clarity", a new tool from Topaz Labs...

We've been fans of Topaz Labs for some time (see our previous posts here and here), they produce outstanding products at extremely affordable prices.

Well, they've just announced another to their large stable of tools called "Clarity" which is available for both PC's and MAC's.

Clarity allows you to selectively adjust the contrast in your images without those nasty halos and artifacts that usually accompany that type of editing.

Below is a quickie video that demonstrates what Clarity looks like and how it works in Photoshop, though it's also works with other image editing software flavors, like PaintShop Pro, Photo Impact, and others. You can get a full list of compatible software for PC's and MAC's at this link.

Speaking of how Clarity works, you can sign up of for (one of many) free one hour seminars being offered by Topaz Labs, attending one of these webinars would be a great way to see Clarity editing "in action" and how it will improve your image editing workflow.

Two other resources you will want to check out are the Clarity tutorials along with the users guide.

Though you can take your time going through all of those resources, you will want to act quickly on purchasing it as Clarity is being offered at a special introductory price of just $29 until May 31st (2013), simply use the code "claritynew".

After that Clarity will be $49.

I hope you enjoy the video below, if you're a subscriber you'll need to return to Weekly Photo Tips to watch it, or head directly over to our YouTube channel and watch it there.

Duty, Honor, Country...

Back in 2008 I asked our readers to contribute images of their loved ones who they would like to have remembered and I would use those images to make a Memorial Day slideshow, below are the results of their contributions.

The first men featured are "The Lanni Brothers", they are my uncles, first generation Americans and they could not have been prouder of it.

It was because of their example that during a time when some were worried about being drafted, I enlisted.

Each year I mean to create another slideshow but always seem remember too late to get the process started, so forgive me for repeating it again this year.

If you are having trouble viewing this, or would like to view it larger, simply follow this link.

And if you would, please share this with others, because these brave men and women (and the others just like them) deserve to be remembered, to be honored.

It's Memorial Day weekend...

Many look at this weekend as the official start of summer, as the weekend they open up their BBQ for the season, or because of all those sales... but it's about something so much more, it's about remembering, remembering those who have paid the ultimate price, those who have "gone on ahead".

Memorial Day was established over 150 years ago as a day of remembrance of those men and women who have died in the service of their country.

Which brings me to an important movie that I recently watched (yet again), Taking Chance.

I implore you to watch this little known, seldom seen true story about taking a fallen soldier home.

It's not pro war, it's not anti war... it's not about war period. It is about honor, dignity, and respect, Taking Chance tells the story of the final trip home for those who have given it all because they were asked.

Chance Phelps died in Iraq in 2004 and this movie is about his last trip home.

I promise that if you rent this movie you will be moved, and if you're not, if you think it was a waste of your time simply drop me an email and I will give you back double what ever you paid to rent it.

Because I think it's that important.

Please... kick off your summer, have that BBQ, and maybe even take in a sale, but if you would... please... remember too.

If you are a subscriber and won't see the video trailer because they are not pushed through, come back to the blog or view it on YouTube.

Do you love photography and to read?...

(click on image to view larger, read easier) 

Because if you love both photography and reading I could really use your help.

As I mention in my review of Scott Kelby's "The Digital Photography Book: Part 1", books for review are delivered on both a numerous and regular basis.

So much so that it would be impossible for me to read them all.

Here's how you can help me out, pick any one of the above books (first come first serve), and I will send it to you to read and write a review.

Not only will the book be yours to keep, we will also provide links back to you (your website, Flickr page, etc.) as part of your intro/bio that will be part of the posted review.

The only two things we ask is that you follow our review policy and have your review back to us in a two to three week time frame.

So after getting this far if you are still interested simply send us an email with your book of choice along with your snail mail address and we'll send your book right out to you.

You might want to include a second choice just in case your first choice is already gone.

UPDATE: all of the books have been claimed, thanks everyone...

The #1 selling photography book of all time...

If you guessed the author was Scott Kelby then you would be correct.

One of the great benefits of writing this blog is that a few times each week I hear the familiar rumbling sound of the UPS truck coming down my street followed shortly there after buy the thud of a box hitting my front porch and in those boxes are the latest (and sometimes greatest) photography books.

The most recent book to go "thud" on my porch was the second edition of "The Digital Photography Book: Part 1" from Scott Kelby.

As soon as I opened the package and saw what it was (and who it was written by) I sat down and started thumbing through it.

My first thought while I paroozed through the index was "how is he going to cover all this stuff in a little book?".

Scott is able to cover such a vast amount of information because he keeps each topic to a single page, and less than a full page at that because there is a corresponding image (or two) to help drive home that point.

The book is an easy read because Scott's writing style which is a casual, conversational style of writing, like "hey Scott, do I need to get that 1.4 lens or the 1.8?". He answers in a paragraph why (for reasons other than just the cost savings) in most cases the 1.8 version of the lens would be a better choice. Answers that are short, to the point, and packed with knowledge. You won't find any long and rambling dissertations here.

(click on any image to view larger and make it easier to read) 

Reading this book is like sitting down and being able to pepper Scott Kelby with one photography question after another and getting his expert advice in response. I know, because I have been lucky enough to do just that.

Another very cool feature of The Digital Photography Book: Part 1 is how this book is put together, you don't need to read it from the first page through to the last, you can start with the things you find most interesting and work your way to those less so. Jumping from subject to subject will take nothing away from the quality of the content.

And I could ramble on about all the things I like about this book and why, if you are a photographer looking for great information that will help improve your craft, this could very well be the book you have been looking for, but I won't.

Instead I will do something that in 1,300 posts written here on Weekly Photo Tips that I have done only once or twice... I will give you my personal guarantee, if you buy The Digital Photography Book: Part 1 and it isn't everything I said it is, I will buy it back from you.

Consider this, for under $14 you can get a book that will easily fit in your camera bag and stuff your mind with knowledge at the same time.

It's time for senior prom...

Our Christmas card from Molly's first Christmas

The last few weeks the stress level in our house has been a bit higher than usual... because it has been filled with the drama that comes with the a fancy shmancy dress, bigger than normal hair, and all the other things that go with senior prom.

If you have been a friend at Weekly Photo Tips for very long you've seem my oldest daughter Molly grow up and this weekend she attended her senior prom.

I have celebrated Molly's birthday and shared her humor here on the blog because she is one of the things of which I am most proud.

And as my daughters reach more of these millstones, it means the day is getting ever closer when they'll be leaving for college, and the thought of them no longer being under my roof fills me with sadness.

The morning after her prom Molly said "thanks dad, you really made it awesome" which made every penny and all the effort worth it, and yes, it made me just a little emotional too.

Molly in her Wizard of Oz phase

At Homecoming

Senior Prom

If you are a Scott Kelby fan...

And who isn't... Then this will be of interest to you!

You can save 71% on his DVD and book combo "Photo Recipes Live Part 2", right now it can be yours for just $12.99 and it also comes with free shipping (usually $44.95).

This is for the DVD/book version, not a download or a streaming video, but the hard copy in your hot little hands.

If you wonder how professional photographers use natural light, studio light, and direct daylight to get amazing shots, you’ll see it all in this DVD, as it happens.

Best of all, Scott explains everything in simple, plain, easy to understand and follow English, just like you're talking to a friend.

You can read our original review of "Photo Recipes Live Part 1" from Scott Kelby here.

The bad news is this offer is only good until May 18th (2013), so if you want "Photo Recipes Live Part 2" from Scott Kelby do not doddle.

Here is a two minute teaser video from Scott.

(subscribers will need to return to the blog to watch the video)

Two, no make that three bazillion free fonts...

This is by far the single most popular post we have ever done on Weekly Photo Tips, so we have decided to edited and update our list of the best available free fonts out there to share with you here today.


There are times when working on projects (for both yourself and clients) and the standard fonts you find on your computer just aren't doing it for you.

And the right font can really "make" the project pop (just as a bad font can sink it).

Below is list of websites that have way more FREE fonts than you ever knew existed.

1001 Free Fonts 

Abstract Fonts

Acid Fonts

California Fonts

Chank Fonts

Font Fabric

Font Freak
Font River

Font Shop

Font Space

Font Squirrel

Free Fonts on Pinterest

Free Typography

Get Free Fonts

Google Fonts

Simply The Best Fonts

Urban Fonts

If you download any of these fonts for a project I (and your fellow Weekly Photo Tippers) would love to see the final results so email me a screenshot or join our Flickr group and post it there.

A very nice carbon fiber tripod...

If you are in the market for a tripod you should consider the new Flashpoint F-2228N Version II Carbon Fiber Tripod.

It has a maximum height 65", when closed is just 22", will support up to 22 pounds and comes with both spiked and rubber feet.

This tripod usually sells for $219 but is on sale for $99 (with free shipping).

You may want to consider the F-9 Compact Tripod Ball Head with Quick Release to top it off.

It to is on sale for just $44 and also has free shipping.

Hey mom, happy Mothers Day!

Yes I may be 50 (something), but I am still a mommas boy.

My mom was a single parent of 5 (2 girls, 3 boys) and we were poor (though I didn't know it when I was younger). We lived in the projects in the Boston area and my mom struggled to make ends meet with some pretty crappy jobs, cleaning other peoples homes and taking in their laundry.

The two things I remember most from those times were being happy and always having an outstanding Christmas. No matter what the year had held for us, when Christmas came it was magical. It seemed no matter what we had asked for from Santa, we would find it under the tree on Christmas morning.

I knew there just had to be a Santa because there was no way my mom could afford to buy us these things.

Well, when I got a little older, I knew the big man was more myth than man but I couldn't figure out how my mom did it, how she made Christmas "happen". Because by then understood clearly, we were poor.

Then one day I happened upon five envelopes that were all rubber banned together. One had my name on it and the others had the names of my brothers and sisters. Each envelope had the exact same amount of money in it, all in one dollar bills and loose change.

Then it dawned on me, after a long day of cleaning houses my mom would take some of that days  money and split it evenly between those 5 envelopes. And she would do this after every basket of laundry, after every dirty house, all year long. So by the time Christmas came, mom could make the magic happen.

Though at the time I understood the process, I could not fully appreciate all her hard work and all that sacrifice until I was older.

As I write this it still amazes me.

And I know why we were happy, because we were loved.

Well, it's time to head to mom's. My daughters love this for several reasons, not the least of which is that when I walk through her door I am no longer their dad, I am my mothers son. They get a kick seeing me in that role.

The picture below is from a few years back, the girls made my mom a cake that looked like a platter of spaghetti and meatballs (cream cheese "spaghetti" frosting, strawberry "sauce" topping).

Happy Mothers Day mom, I love you!

The Home Depot lighting demonstration...

When most people think about light (like me before I got my first big boy camera) it comes down to it being either bright or dark, but as photographers we quickly learn that it's much more than just light or the absence there of, its about what color (or what temperature) that light is.

Well, when wondering through Home Depot the other day I saw this new display the perfectly demonstrates the color temperature of light.

What's even cooler (no pun intended) is when you stick your hand under each of the lights and see what it does to your skin tone. If you find yourself in Home Depot (or other store with a similar display) you should give it a try.

Click on either image to view larger and better see the "color of light" given off by different light sources.

Seeing these different colors makes it easier to understand why it can be so hard to get the tone of a persons skin correct when you shoot them in a room that has one (or more) of these lights (and even harder when you throw a Speedlight in that mix).

To learn more be sure to check out this really well done article "Reproducing Real World Light".

In the mean time, here is a 8 minute video from one of my favorite guys talking about white balance, Mark Wallace.

Not only does he talk about white balance, but walks you though how to udjust the settings in your camera to componsate/match the light you are shooting under.

(subscribers will need to return to the blog to watch the video)

Depth of field... in depth...

Today we are going to talk a bit about depth of field, and I'll give you several visual representations of what it looks like.

Here is an image of what the aperture blades look like in a lens (though they are technically known as the "focal plane diaphragm blades"), the wider they are open the more light comes flooding in and the wider the blades are open the more shallow your "focal plane" becomes (meaning the things in front of and behind the object you are focusing on will be blurry).

The lower your f/stop is set (say f/1.4), the wider those blades are open.

The sample images below were shot with a Nikon 60mm f/2.8G AF-S Micro lens, so the lowest the aperture can be set at is f/2.8 (aka "wide open"). When any lens is wide open (lowest f/value) you won't even see the blades, all you'll see is a round hole.

There is also a direct correlation with your f/stop and shutter speed, a lower f/stop (number) will allow you to shoot at a higher shutter speed. When photographing a wedding (or reception) for example you may have low light and don't want to (or can't) use a flash, by dropping your f/stop you can bump up your shutter speed.

I could ramble on, but I am more of a visual kinda guy, so here are a few examples I shot this morning, the lighting was not changed for any of the shots, the only changes were to the f/stop and shutter speed.

Notice that as the f/stop increases the blades begin to close, and if you want to keep the exposure the same you need to decrease the shutter speed, and as this is going on the depth of field becomes deeper.

(click on any image to view larger)

I am a huge fan of Mark Wallace, in the 7 minute video below he does a very nice job explaining depth of field.

(subscribers will need to return to the blog to watch the video)

Is your mom a photographer?

Because of she is we have some pretty good deals on possible Mothers Day gifts.

Keep in mind that ALL these deals come with free shipping, and we use every penny of every affiliate check to help feed the hungry (thank you for your support).

Lexar 32GB Professional 400x SDHC UHS-I Memory Card - $34.95 

SanDisk 16GB ExtremePRO SDHC Memory Card, 95MB Read Speed - $37.95

There are an assortment of Canon point and shoots come with rebates AND a free Gift Card!

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard AutoFocus Lens - USA - $310

Regular price is $349, the special price (after you "add to cart") is $310 it also comes with 6% Adorama rewards. (Price after rewards $292)

Save up to $50 with select Tokina lenses

There are three different Nikon D3100 bundles:

1 - Nikon D3100 14.2 Megapixel Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm NIKKOR DX Lens & 55-200mm NIKKOR DX Lens - $496

2 - Nikon D3100 14.2 Megapixel Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm NIKKOR VR Lens & 55-200mm NIKKOR VR Lens - $596

3 - Nikon D3100 14.2 Megapixel Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm DX Lens & 55-200mm DX Lens - Bundle - with 55-300mm VR Lens - $746

Canon EOS Rebel T4i Digital SLR Camera Body, 18 Megapixel, Full HD Movie Mode - U.S.A. Warranty

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Standard AutoFocus Lens - USA Warranty

Red Giant Adorama Production Bundle, Software for PC/Mac

Displayed price is $799, after you "add to cart" the final price is $648

There are three different Canon EOS-6D bundles:

1 - Canon EOS-6D Digital SLR Camera Body, 20.2 Megapixel - Bundle - with 32GB SDHC Class 10 Memory Card, Adorama Slinger Photo Video Bag - $1899

2 - Canon EOS-6D Digital SLR Camera Body - Bundle - with Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens, 32GB 200x SDHC Memory Card, Camera Carrying Case - $2149

3 - Canon EOS-6D Digital SLR Camera Kit with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens

this bundle includes FREE (you must select the Buy Together and Save option and scroll to the correct package and add it to the cart)

* - Lexar 16GB Professional 400x SDHC UHS-I Memory Card for Cameras

* - Canon 100-EG Custom Gadget Bag

* - Canon Monopod 500, 5 Section Leg with Mini Ball Head, Height: 21.9" to 64.5"

* - Flashpoint Zoom Lever Gear Ring

* - Flashpoint Swivi HD DSLR LCD Universal Foldable Viewfinder with 3.0X Magnification

* - Flashpoint VL-35, Camera & Video 35 LED Light with Bracket

Total for this package is - $2399 

Canon EOS-5D Mark III Digital SLR Camera Body Kit with Canon EF 24-105L Image Stabilized Lens

Displayed price is $3899, after you "add to cart" the final price is $3799

It's Flickr Wednesday...

Thanks to everyone over at our Flickr group for adding such great imagery.

Not sure how, but they just keep getting better and better.

Click on any one of the images to view larger.

Enjoy, I sure did picking them out.

If you are not currently part of our Flick group we would love for you to join us, you'll find all the details on how to join right here.